Restrictions Eased for Qualified Hong Kong & Macau Lawyers Practicing in Mainland China

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Aug. 20 – China’s Ministry of Justice (MOJ) released the “Decision on Revising the Administrative Measures for Engagement in Mainland Legal Practices by Hong Kong and Macau Residents Holding Mainland Legal Qualifications (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Measures’)” on August 7, which expands the scope of Hong Kong and Macau-related civil cases allowed to be represented by Hong Kong and Macau residents in Mainland courts starting from October 1, 2013. Detailed information can be found below.

According to the Decision, starting from October 1, any Hong Kong or Macau resident who holds Mainland legal qualifications and practices in a Mainland law firm may engage in non-litigation matters in the Mainland, or act as a lawyer in Hong Kong or Macau-related civil cases.

The MOJ released the “Announcement on the Scope of Hong Kong and Macau-Related Civil Cases Allowed to be Represented by Hong Kong and Macau Residents Holding Mainland Legal Qualifications (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Announcement’)” on August 15, which clarifies the types of Hong Kong and Macau-related civil cases which can be represented by Hong Kong and Macau residents in Mainland courts.

Representing Scope

Currently, the scope of Hong Kong and Macau-related civil cases which can be represented by Hong Kong and Macau residents in Mainland courts is limited to marriage, family and inheritance disputes. However, the scope has been greatly expanded under the Announcement and will cover the following five categories of disputes from October 1, 2013:

  • Marriage, family and inheritance disputes;
  • Contract disputes;
  • Intellectual property disputes;
  • Civil disputes relating to companies, securities, insurance and bills; and
  • Cases related to the above-mentioned disputes which shall apply special procedures.

Eligibility Requirements

Under Chinese laws and regulations, for applying to practice as a lawyer in Mainland China, a Hong Kong or Macau resident holding Mainland legal qualifications shall take a one-year internship in a Mainland law firm. Alternatively, a Hong Kong resident may take his or her internship in the Hong Kong branch office of a Mainland law firm.

For a Hong Kong legal practitioner or a Macau lawyer who has acquired Mainland legal qualifications and has more than five years’ practice experience, he or she shall take an intensive training program for no less than one month organized by the local lawyers’ association in the Mainland, and pass the relevant assessment.

The above-mentioned persons may file an application with the local judicial administrative authority after completing the internship or passing the relevant assessment.

Moreover, a Hong Kong or Macau resident who is allowed to practice in the Mainland shall handle Mainland non-litigation legal matters as a legal consultant, lawyer, advisor or scrivener, and handle Hong Kong or Macao-related civil cases in the capacity of an agent ad litem. Such residents may become a partner of a Mainland law firm if he or she satisfies specified requirements.

However, the Hong Kong or Macao resident who is allowed to practice as a lawyer in the Mainland shall practice in one Mainland law firm only, and is not allowed to be simultaneously employed by a representative office of a law firm of Hong Kong, Macao or a foreign country stationed in the Mainland.

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